2015 African Philanthropy Forum: Millennials Bring Down the House


The second African Philanthropy Forum (APF) convened in Kigali, Rwanda this past October. This year’s forum brought together over 150 of Africa’s current and emerging philanthropists and social investors to discuss the role of philanthropy in keeping a “Promise to the Next Generation” – a promise to leverage and further develop human capital and talent to achieve Africa’s potential.

Panels included incredible changemakers, who discussed how investments in education, health, agriculture, technology, and women will generate the talent needed to realize a brighter African future. However, it was the panel composed of millennials that brought an energy of passion and urgency too rarely felt at conferences.

In the “The Future We Make: Africa’s Next Generation of Social Actors” panel, Sangu Delle, Elizabeth Tanya Masiyiwa, Patrick Ngowi, and Uzodinma Iweala aptly summed up the cross-cutting themes of the 2015 APF as follows:

  • We need to place emphasis on homegrown philanthropy. Working in Africa is distinctly different from working anywhere else in the world, which requires locally developed models of philanthropy, investment and development.
  • The ideas and innovations required to solve problems in Africa already exist, but they require flexibility from funders in order to successfully develop and scale. This means creating local finance systems, access to affordable capital, long-term commitments, listening to local definitions of impact, and providing access to relevant mentors.
  • Social entrepreneurship will be at the center of the next generation of philanthropy.
  • Partnerships between private, public and civil sectors will drive greater change as they leverage different strengths.
  • Achieving equal rights for women is crucial for Africa’s development, and both men and women need to be involved in driving those equal rights.

You can check out more of the discussion from this year’s African Philanthropy Forum on Twitter – #APF15.

IDP Foundation Attends SoCap 2015

October 20, 2015

The eighth annual SoCap (Social Capital Markets) conference recently took place in beautiful San Francisco, California, drawing a huge crowd of impact investors, foundations, social entrepreneurs and visionaries who gathered to discuss ways to increasing the flow of capital towards social good. The conference rooms were jam-packed and the shoreline was alive with meetings of people looking to create change.

In an effort to keep our finger on the pulse of impact investing, IDP Foundation attended the conference, which proved to be on target with our focus as we strive to become 100% mission-aligned. We learned from a diverse group of investors, social entrepreneurs, and managers, as well as heard from budding entrepreneurs who shared their innovative ideas, while inspiring us along the way.

The growing demand for impact investment options was evident throughout the event as attendees explored ways to invest their assets and align them with their values. Some discussions focused on achieving high impact without giving up returns, while others focused on giving up return potential in lieu of high social impact. Regardless of the direction, investors were demanding social and environmental impact, and looking at their investments with more than just a financial lens. 

While impact investing was the primary focus, we were also looking to discover opportunities for partnerships with ventures that use business solutions to solve education issues – particularly in the developing world – while we continue to identify sustainable solutions to incorporate learning enhancements into the IDP Rising Schools Program

Overall, the conference was exhilarating and inspired us to take much of what we learned and apply it to the work and efforts of the IDP Foundation.

Click here to learn more about SoCap and join the conversation on Twitter at #SoCap15


Dr. Patrick Awuah Named 2015 MacArthur Fellow


October 1, 2015

Congratulations to Ashesi University President, Dr. Patrick Awuah, who has recently been named as one of the twenty-four recipients of the 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship!

Known to many as the “Genius Grant,” the highly coveted award has three criteria for selection: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

This year’s class makes up a diverse collective of trailblazers, ranging from ages 33 to 72. “These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”

To learn more about Dr. Awuah and the other MacArthur Fellow recipients, read here.

Join the conversation at #MacFellow


IDP Visits Social Enterprise Alliance Summit 2015

September 29, 2015

This past week, our Program and Research Coordinator, Jenna O’Brien, attended the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit in Denver, Colorado to get acquainted with the social enterprise community and hear firsthand what challenges entrepreneurs face when creating and maintaining their businesses. The Social Enterprise Alliance is the national membership organization and key catalyst for the rapidly growing social enterprise movement in the United States. They provide social enterprises with the resources needed to succeed, offer support and help grow the field on a national scale, and serve as a voice for more sustainable social impact. Here are some of her takeaways from the sessions and burgeoning sector:

  1. Some of the most lively conversations I had with SEA attendees revolved around a proverbial elephant in the room of growing movements – how do we stay true to task and mission, while becoming a popular option and of interest to the general public? One of the greatest achievements of the social enterprise movement is the widespread adoption and validity of the business model. Now comes the part where you have to decipher between who is legit and who is a knock-off playing to a trend.
  2. Cross-sector collaboration is key to bringing many stakeholders together to solve a complex issue; however, despite the mass amounts of stock photos showing large groups working together harmoniously, that is far from the case. When bringing players from the public, private, and civic spheres, you will usually find some stark misalignments with each sector’s institutional logics that can cause some tension. One easy example to use is the fundamental differences between the for-profit private sector versus the non-profit public sector. Thus, the real challenge becomes how do we turn preexisting tension into beneficial and successful relationships that create outcomes worthy of the hard work?One project to highlight in this area is the Denver Social Impact Bond on homelessness. All eyes are going to be on this city as they attempt to normalize a shift in government spending to focus on positive outcomes and cash savings, rather than creating additional services. If this social impact bond works in Denver, other city governments may follow suit.
  3. There is a growing concern for non-profits that could turn into social enterprises, but choose not to do so. According to a panel addressing Technology for Society, those entities that have the capability to become a social enterprise have a moral obligation to do so in order to leave funding for those non-profits and budding social entrepreneurs who lack access. There are still issues and opinions about solving social problems with market solutions, but many feel philanthropic dollars should go to those starting out – not those with a 10-year track record. “Don’t milk the cow dry, leave some for someone else.”
  4. Millennials were a huge topic of conversation, and I must admit I was flattered to be on the minds of so many influential people! The conversation wasn’t negative; it was about how to work with the 1.1 billion world population (75.4 million in America) who have been at the forefront of technology and is a generation that truly cares. 75 percent of millennials donated to a non-profit in 2014, and 51 percent did volunteer work. How can we tap into this group who doesn’t value structure and are challenging old ways with new change? “Do you work within a system, outside the system, or create a new system?”

Interested in joining the SEA community? Find a chapter near you by clicking here.

IEFG Semi Annual Meeting: Raising the Quality of Teaching


April 24, 2015

The IDP Rising Schools Program attended the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) meeting in Portugal this week, to engage in a large group discussion on the importance of raising the quality of teaching at a global scale.

The IEFG began back in 2006, as a way for foundations and donor-advised funds granting specifically in education in the developing world to casually convene, share knowledge, and connect with one another. The group formally launched in 2011, and is dedicated to helping advance global development and education agendas by improving funders’ strategic analyses and thinking, informing and assisting their grantmaking, and providing opportunities for collective learning and action. To date, there are 83 members, and we continue to grow.

There is much to be said about the reciprocity between teacher and student, as both are learners and both are teachers. The meeting highlighted some of the innovative programs focusing on increasing the effectiveness of teaching, especially in the developing world, while also highlighting sustainability, motivational, and financial challenges facing the entire sector.

As a program, IDPRS resonated with conversations on teacher preparation, professional development, and the importance of building supportive teacher systems, as we often see untrained teachers working in the low-cost private school sector. The Early Childhood Development conversations had us contemplating the building of the brain and the various environmental and social impacts that can inhibit that development; such as nutrition, trauma, and poor health. The various subgroups that took place over lunch opened a dialogue about girls’ secondary education, the impact of the Post-2015 agenda on educational policy, and gaps in monitoring learning outcomes. All of which impact teaching in one way or another.

We greatly appreciated the thought provoking questions and presentations put on by our colleagues, the wealth of information brought to the meeting by practitioners, and the passion for education exhibited throughout the meeting. Key takeaways from the meeting were broad, allowing for varied applications by individual foundations. The general idea that teaching is a collective endeavor for instance, will mean different things to different. The need to focus on practices that encourage community based educator competencies will be altered based on cultural, geographic, and socio-economic contexts. The IDPRS team is excited to begin brainstorming on how to integrate some of the information we received into our program.


Exciting Things Are On The Horizon


April 17, 2015

Spring is finally here, and although the weather in Chicago is still trying to sort itself out, there is evidence that new growth, greener scenery, and warmer days are upon us. Something similar is happening here in the IDP Foundation, Inc. office as well, with lots of new projects, opportunities, and tools pushing us into the second quarter of 2015.

Last week, we announced our partnership with Eneza Education, and mentioned a scoping trip that was taken in February of this year. Prior to that, we made the decision to begin working on a mapping project utilizing the amazing software that is offered by software company, ESRI. We hope to begin mapping our schools across Ghana, and sharing that data as it becomes available, but in the meantime we are excited to be utilizing the mobile map application, and want to share our first map attempt from our scoping trip to Ghana can be found here.

IDPF President, Irene Pritzker, is slated to speak at two upcoming conferences this month, focusing on the role and operations of family foundations. April 22, 2015 she will be participating on the Impact Capitalism Summit’s Family Office Panel, followed by offering her expertise on the Nuts and Bolts of Impact Investing on April 26, 2015 at the Council on Foundation’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Looking forward into fall, the Sustainable Development Goals are keeping everyone busy, with a slew of conferences and meetings taking place to help develop those ideas further. This May, Irene, and IDPRS Executive Director Allison Rohner, will be heading to Incheon, South Korea to participate in the World Education Forum hosted by UNESCO. Here they will hear how UNESCO and UNICEF have been working with a wide array of stakeholders to shape education beyond 2015.

At the same time in May, IDPRS Program Associate, Jenna O’Brien, will be heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the eLerning Africa’s 10th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education, and Training. With the IDPRS program venturing into the mobile learning technology, we are excited to learn more about technology’s role in expanding and transforming education across the continent of Africa. Additionally, she will also be making a trip to Northern Ethiopia, to stop by Mekelle University and get an update on our grantee, the Mela Project.

Stay on the lookout for all of these new upcoming updates


We Have a New Partner!


April 10, 2015

IDP Foundation, Inc. and the IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRS) are pleased to announce a new partnership with Eneza Education; a virtual tutor and teacher assistant accessible on low-cost basic mobile phones. Started by Toni Maraviglia, a Teach for America corps member and former New York teacher, and Kago Kagichiri, a Kenyan developer, Eneza was created to give students access to information that will improve their intelligence and general knowledge. Designed as a way to engage students outside of traditional rote learning, the Eneza product increases critical thinking and inspires curiosity.

After meeting Toni at the Unreasonable Institute in Colorado, IDPF President, Irene Pritzker, knew that the product was something that could contribute exponentially to the educational landscape in Ghana, and thus talks began. What was discussed was an exploration into bringing a new technology to the low cost private schools already enrolled in the IDPRS program, and a strong focus on helping the JHS students pass their Basic Education Certification Exams (BECEs); which allow students to enter into secondary school.

In February of this year, the two teams met in Accra for a very successful scoping trip, as a way to begin formulating a more solid project framework. Over the course of two weeks, the teams met with proprietors in ten different schools in both the Kumasi and Accra regions, which also included demonstrations of the product to teachers, students, and parents. Meetings were also had with mobile network providers and potential local partners who could serve as resident implementers.

As a result of the trip and the conversations had, it was decided that the IDP Foundation, Inc. would make a program related investment for the creation of JHS 3 content, consisting of 50 mini lessons, quizzes, and answer explanations for a pilot that is set to begin at the start of the academic year in September. The content is to be developed by teachers certified by the Ghanaian Education Service to construct curriculum, and it will be vetted by head teachers to assure accuracy. Additionally, the incorporation of teacher content will be included, with tips on classroom management, student engagement, discipline, and even lesson planning.

Because Eneza’s mission is to make 50 million kids across rural Africa smarter, the cost of the product is extremely low, hovering at about $0.50 a month for unlimited use, which is one of the most affordable supplemental education tools our team has ever come across. They are committed to the quality of their product and will partner with a local organization in Ghana to secure the project’s sustainability.

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting new project!

Rural Communities and the Post-2015 Agenda

Yaa Baah BL2

March 26, 2015

This week, the Guardian posted a fantastic article written by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, urging those responsible for guiding the negotiations of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), not to underestimate the importance of continual investment in rural development.

The idea behind rural development is nothing new, at both the international and domestic level the goal is the same; to improve the quality of life and fiscal security of those living in fairly isolated and sparsely occupied areas. Traditionally, the concept of rural development has focused mainly on agriculture, but there has been a shift to include a wider perspective in ways of targeting solutions to poverty and hunger through driving local development, promoting education, improving physical and social infrastructure, and sustainable use and management of national resources.[1]

Those living in rural and peri-urban communities, are thought about when targets are developed, specifically thinking about poverty and hunger, but are never focused on as active solutions to the problem; which is interesting to think about as “more than three-quarters of the global poor are in rural areas.”[2] The article argues that investing in small family farmers, those breeding livestock, fisherfolk, rural workers, indigenous peoples, and entrepreneurs are keys to promoting growth and pushing forward economic development in depressed regions.

The IDP Foundation, Inc. would agree whole heartedly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on a myriad of things within this article, particularly on the topic of the strong entrepreneurial spirit already existing in the rural sector. This spirit is something we regularly see in our IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRS) operating in Ghana, as 41% of our school proprietors giving educational access to children are doing so in remote areas; with another 45% operating in the peri-urban space.  These individuals are not only helping achieve the Education for All target put forth in the Millennium Development Goals and backed by UNESCO, but they are also giving women the same access to opportunities as their male counterparts, which according to research has been shown to significantly reduce the number of poor and hungry people in a community.[3]

The article also talks about partnerships, both public and private, to place equal focus on both the urban and rural areas when it comes to policy, and we would argue these policies should not only focus on the rural agricultural development but also social and educational to build a more inclusive and just civil sector and society; which would include low cost private schools and their owners since they too benefit the public good. Without education, the 17 overly ambitious SDGs and their 169 targets being set for the post-2015 agenda will not be possible, as sustainability can only come from localized development and targeted education.

We too ask that the rural people not be forgotten in this time of goal setting, and challenge those responsible for negotiations with the General Assembly to create an inclusive as well as equitable education agenda.

[1] Ward, Neil; Brown, David L. (1 December 2009). “Placing the Rural in Regional Development”. Regional Studies 43 (10): 1237–1244.

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/fao-partner-zone/2015/mar/23/five-agents-of-change-for-a-sustainable-world

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/fao-partner-zone/2015/mar/23/five-agents-of-change-for-a-sustainable-world

Cost of Post-2015 SDGs Proves Partnerships with Local School Owners can be Beneficial

Hilltop Queen Esther School

March 12, 2015

UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) released a new paper “Pricing the right to education: The cost of reaching new targets by 2030” to consider the immense costs associated with the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals on participating States. The analysis takes into account all low and lower middle income countries, which face the greatest challenges in education provision and are the most likely to need external assistance, as well as the rise in the number of children entering schools. [1]

The key findings show that there is a US$22 billion annual external financing gap that must be filled if low and lower middle income countries are to reach “quality, universal pre-primary, primary, and lower secondary education.”[2] Additionally, the GMR also shows that there is going to also be a significant increase in the cost per student, government spending on education, and the need for aid to quadruple in some cases to help meet the 15 year targets.

Looking at the financial challenges that lie ahead, it is clear that multi-lateral partnerships with governments across the globe will be a top priority if we are to reach the educational development goals of the post-2015 agenda for all children. Support will need to be both sustainable and incredibly creative, and in-house changes will need to be cost effective and educationally relevant.

The IDP Foundation, Inc. fully believes portions of the post-2015 agenda can be met, regardless of financing, if those involved would only look towards the low-cost private school (LCPS) sector as an added resource to the solution.  With costs rising to finance the goals, the governments should welcome the LCPS sector, as they are already currently educating students at no cost to the government. Partnerships with these schools, as well as access to resources, could net a huge return in the goal of universal pre-primary, primary, and lower secondary education are to be met by 2030.

Resources such as allowing private school teachers to attend public in service trainings, providing access to affordable and reliable transportation to allow children to get to and from school, as well as connecting with proprietors regarding educational goals for the country are all ways to ensure children receive and have access to quality education, at a minimal cost to the government.

A great example of a partnership currently happening in Ghana is with an IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRSP) graduate, Benjamin Kofu Boateng and the Peaceland Preparatory School. Benjamin got involved with IDPRS soon after it began in 2010 by joining the second group of schools offered access to microfinance capital after completing training to purchase a larger plot of land that could comfortably support his expanding low-cost private school. Although he was very lucky to have secured a sizable property, it was a great deal further from its original location, making it difficult for his students to maintain regular attendance. Utilizing his proprietor training foundation, Benjamin decided to take out another small loan from SinapiAba Trust in order to purchase a small school bus to aide in transportation. As the school grew, it was obvious that another bus was needed, but instead of taking out a loan Benjamin wanted to find a local partner to help keep costs low and maintain a level of safety for the students.

Understanding costs and income as well as perseverance and persistence, all of which are taught as part of the proprietor training offered by the IDP Rising Schools Program, we were pleased to hear that Benjamin took the initiative to effectively pursue and successfully establish a partnership with the Ghana Metro Mass Transit System to assist Peaceland Preparatory with their bussing of students.  Government partnerships and registration are a core value of our program, and every morning students in upper primary are transported to the new campus and back to their homes via efficient, safe, and reliable transportation for a small fee that is manageable by the school.

The post-2015 agenda has ambitious targets, which come at a steep financial burden to those countries that are classified as low and lower middle income. Incorporating the low-cost private school sector into the policy provisions in helping to reach these education goals through affordable partnerships, and ensuring all students are receiving the best form of quality education, regardless if it is public or private, is a great start.

[1] http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/costing-post-2015-education-targets-resources-needed-achieve- ambitious-new-vision

[2] http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002321/232197E.pdf


IDP Foundation President Mentors at Village Capital 2015 Ed Tech Cohort


Photo by Village Capital

February 27, 2015

Back in January, Village Capital and Citi Community Development announced that they would be partnering together to create a program to promote entrepreneurship and improve education in local communities.

Comprised of three sessions, two in Washington, DC and one in Chicago, the Village Capital Ed Tech: US 2015 selected a group of 11 early stage ventures to participate in their three-month outcome based  accelerator program.  The program would provide the entrepreneurs   with critical business development training, mentorship from local business leaders and investors and face-to-face interaction with potential customers. At the end of the program, the entrepreneurs rank each other according to six criteria, and the two highest peer-ranked ventures each receive $50,000 in pre-committed capital.

The Chicago session commenced this week, working in the Impact Engine Office at the 1871 building, and IDP Foundation, Inc. President, Irene Pritzker, was honored to be involved. Selected by Village Capital to be a mentor, Irene used her experience as a foundation President and expertise in sustainable education models and impact investing to advise these nascent education social enterprises.

Irene hosted a kick-off reception in her home to welcome the cohort participants, Village Capital team, mentors, and key Chicago figures to the area.  The workshop began the following day and Irene enjoyed participating in a workshop session where she provided insight, constructive criticism and feedback on the enterprises’ business models. Her experience with Village Capital’s Ed Tech event left her feeling  overwhelmingly excited about the technological creativity that was presented to change the educational landscape, and cannot wait to see where each of the cohort members moves after the program.

Look for more information on the sessions via twitter by searching #VilCapEd2015